The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 introduced new rights for cohabitants. A cohabitant is either one of a couple who live together (or lived together) as if they were husband and wife or civil partners.
The Act came into force as part of Scottish law on 4 May 2006. The Act allows a cohabitant to ask the court for a share from his or her cohabitant's estate. This only applies where the person who died did not make a will. If you want to apply for a share from your cohabitant's estate, you need to do so within six months of his or her death.
When the court considers giving a share of someone's estate to a former cohabitant, it will look at the couple's relationship. It will consider things such as:
- how long the couple lived together
- what sort of relationship they had (was it similar in nature to a marriage or a civil partnership?)
- what sort of arrangements they made about money. For example:
- did they have a joint bank account?
- did they support one another financially?
This will help the court to decide whether a cohabitant is entitled to an award under these rules.
Cohabitants may have rights to a croft tenancy on intestacy under the Crofting Reform etc. Act 2007.
If you think any of this might apply to you, you should seek independent legal advice from a solicitor or a Citizens Advice Bureau. You can read more about family law on the Scottish Government's website at www.scotland.gov.uk/familylaw. You can contact the Scottish Government's family law team on 0131 244 3581.